Atomic Heart facing backlash over racist cartoon found in-game
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Featured Image Credit: Focus Entertainment
Originally one of the most hyped games of the year, with influences from BioShock, Metro and historical Soviet records, Atomic Heart has been triggering the mother of all migraines for its team lately.
Ahead of its launch, it was also bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism for the date that it chose to come out for PC, PlayStation and Xbox as it was controversially close to the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine. In response, developer Mundfish assured fans that it "[does] not comment on politics or religion" and that the company "is undeniably a pro-peace organization against violence against people." This wasn't enough for Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation Alex Bornyakov and so he called on Valve, Sony and Microsoft to ban sales of Atomic Heart in the country.
Here's the trailer for the game:
Combine that with the wildly inconsistent review scores for the game, descriptions of its "miserable" gameplay loop, and accusations of virulent "misogynistic undertones," and you suddenly paint a picture of Atomic Heart's fall from favour. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the list of infractions.
PlayStation LifeStyle pointed out that, on the TVs in the game's save rooms, there is a racist caricature of an African tribesman. In the scene, which has been lifted from Well, Just You Wait!, the Soviet answer to Tom and Jerry that aired in the 1970s, a wolf chases a hare in a museum. The wolf then hits the statue of the tribesman and the statue is very reminiscent of a Golliwog. Per PlayStation LifeStyle, this is the image:
This appears to be an egregious oversight from the developer to include this moment from the original show. Disney has taken steps to distance itself from the portrayals of Asian, African American and Native American people in its older films, adding a disclaimer that these scenes contain "outdated cultural depictions." On the other hand, Mundfish hasn't addressed the museum episode in Atomic Heart, and so we don't know if it will be removed from the game in a future update.